This week I watched the season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice (to be more correct, my wife was watching it and I happened to be around). In case you missed it, a large portion of the show was Donald Trump himself seated at the middle of a large boardroom table. On either side of The Donald were Donald Jr. and Ivanka, his kids. The Donald’s younger son Eric was in the crowd as well.
It was like watching a little Trump family reunion. You knew exactly who was a Trump. Not only do they all look alike, but they all looked like a million bucks. Probably rightfully so since each is worth well more than that. Having a professional athlete and model for a mother probably doesn’t hurt either.
As I watched, I began to wonder – where would each of those 3 kids be if their dad wasn’t The Donald? Would they be on TV? Would they be millionaires? Would they even be in the development business? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they would be failures if they had a different dad. They all seem to be fairly intelligent people. At the same time, I don’t think we can deny that their situation in life has made them who they are.
I don’t hold it against them. It is what it is. They certainly didn’t have any say in who their parents are. I think we can, however, learn a few things from them. Even though no one reading this blog may end up billionaires, I think we can each improve our situation. Here’s what I’ve learned from this:
Influences Matter – There is no doubt the Trump kids have learned a great deal from their dad and his business associates. Speaking personally, I’ve never been in the agricultural industry, and yet I can usually identify the brand of an irrigation pivot in a field based on the design. Useful? Maybe not so much for me. The point is that my own dad is in the irrigation business and I’ve picked up a few things just being around him.
There are good influences and bad influences and you can be nudged in either direction. Which type of influence are you surrounded by? Does that match with where you want to go and what you want to do in life? Don’t know anyone that is the kind of influence you want? Have you asked around? They don’t have to be a master teacher to make a difference, just someone that does and lives what you want to learn.
You Matter To Your Kids – I’m a parent. I’ve experienced firsthand that we sometimes forget how much our kids learn from us. They will throw out some comment or bit of attitude that makes you stop and ask “Where did that come from”. And then you realize it’s something you say without even thinking about it. Kids hear everything….. unless you specifically want them to listen.
Most parents want the best for their kids. Are you preparing your kids to be a Trump? I’m not saying you need to make them millionaires or convince The Donald to foster parent your kids. I’m asking if you are setting your kids up for success. Your kids didn’t get to choose their parents. You do have a choice as to what kind of parent you are going to be.
It can be a bit of a trick to find the right level of financial conversation for your kids given their age. 4- and 5-years old is definitely not too young to start. But you certainly don’t want to weigh them down with the details of a mortgage, car loans, and medical bills yet either. Start with a small allowance or helping them decide how they are going to spend the money from their birthday cards. Have a trip planned? Talk to them about saving up ahead of time so they can buy a souvenir on the trip. Sure, it may end up being some piece of junk that they never look at again. But even that can be a lesson learned.
If you aren’t quite sure where to start with teaching your kids, there are resources out there. The Center for Financial Resources can provide the Raising Money Smart Kids class that will help you formulate a plan for teaching your kids. While most kids will go through drivers’ ed, hunters’ safety course, and even the dreaded sex ed, personal finance is only an elective that a few high school students choose to take if they have time. We will all deal with money. Here is a chance to be your child’s hero.
I’m not going to lie. I would love to be on The Donald’s Christmas gift list. I don’t need a Bentley. A new truck would be just fine. Since that probably isn’t going to fall into any of our laps any time soon, I guess we need to be a little more proactive about it.
Take a little time to set your plan. Sit down and write it out:
- Where do you want to be?
- What influences do you need to learn from?
- Do you have those influences already or do you need to find some?
- What kind of an influence are you being for those around you?
- Do they see you doing what you are thinking?
It may seem like a lot to undertake. The most important thing is to start somewhere even if you need to take it in baby steps. If you would like help from a coach or are looking for some education, the Center for Financial Resources is always available to help. Our Raising Money Smart Kids program and most other courses are free for any group that would like to learn more.
You may never become a Trump (and maybe that’s just fine). I don’t need to own the Trump Tower. It sure would be nice to have the ‘Casa De La Miller’ in Sioux Falls paid off, though. Time to get to work.
written by Breck Miller
Trump photo courtesy Huffington Post